I can be a real dickhead sometimes, but it seems that I’m dopiest when I decide to walk somewhere that I shouldn’t walk. I tried walking up Hobart’s 1200m Mt Wellington after an all-night drinking session and ended up vomiting in a bush and being attacked by a deranged Polish dude. I tried circumnavigating Slovenia by foot and ended up rooting my ankle to the point I’ll probably need to have a robotic one put in. And for my latest and greatest trick, I spent six hours walking through the pouring rain in Korea. Mensa, have your certificate back.
Seoraksan National Park, near Sokcho on the neartheast coast, is famous for its mountains and diverse flora and fauna, and apparently quite beautiful. I was planning to head out there yesterday but, due to a few clouds hanging around, I decided to put my plans back ago. Great idea, that one. I woke up to the sound of driving rain, but headed out there anyway, figuring things could only get better.
That’s like taking Rebel Wilson home from a nightclub and telling yourswlf she’ll probably look better with her gear off. In fact, the rain hasn’t stopped for a minute in the past 16 hours. Faced with either heading out into the wilderness or sitting on my arse, I chose the former. I bought a bright blue poncho that made me look like a kiddie fiddler and started marching up Ulsanbawi, one of the tallest peaks in the park. It’s meant to be a four-hour return trip, but with rivers of sludge pushing me back down the mountain, it took far longer. I was wet and miserable, I could see nothing around me, I looked stupid, but still I pushed on.
Incredibly, I wasn’t the only person walking around the park. There were hundreds of Koreans stalking the bottom of the park, and I passed half a dozen people as I climbed further into the clouds. It was a perfect day to sit inside and watch as many episodes of Shameless (the proper one, not the shit American remake) as possible, but all these people were out and about in nature. I guess we’re all fools.
Along the trail is a massive (and very impressive) Buddha statue that sits guard over the forest. With the view out over the mountains largely obscured by the conditions, it was this monument that was the most impressive thing I saw all day. Many people come just to visit the big fella, but for me there was only one goal – the top of the mountain, way up there amongst the murk.
When I got to the peak, the clouds and rain were so thick that I could barely see my hand in front of my face, and I could’ve been 50m above the ground, not 750m. If I’d been smart I would’ve taken a photo of myself at the bottom, fucked off to the pub for a beer, and then bragged to anyone who would listen about making it all the way to the top. But no, I had to spend a few hours trudging through rain so that I could get to the top and see bloody nothin’.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, this is what the view from the top looks like when the entire area isn’t enveloped in a monsoon. Yeah, it’s a little better than what I saw, but whoever took the photo probably has a small penis and isn’t nearly as cool as me, so fuck ‘im.
I didn’t get to experience the beauty of the park or see all the wonderful things, but I did have an adventure. I slogged through a torrential downpour for hours and still made it to the top of the mountain, and that’s all that really matters. Maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better about the missed opportunities that happen all too often while travelling, but bad conditions and getting chased by weirdos and bus rides from hell are half the fun of it as far as I’m concerned. But if it could stop raining for five minutes, that would be sweet.